Is our attention span increasing or decreasing? Well, a study published by Microsoft Corp found that people tend to start losing concentration after about eight seconds. The figure has been on a declining spree, having started at 12 seconds in 2000, to the current position. The average attention span of goldfish stands at nine seconds.

Social Media attention span

The comparison of human’s attention span to that of goldfish is meant to be symbolic. However, it sends the message home. That is, the increasing digitization has had its fair share of impact on the brain.

Goldfish effect – where social media gets it wrong

As Internet technology continues to define our lives, and social media becomes a vital tool to remain connected with friends and family, researchers have taken the time to assess the resultant effect of these changes. Social media has had an impact on our elections, human interactions, and the society at large. The goldfish effect defines a phenomenon where the many social networks have made it hard to concentrate for much longer than 9 seconds, the average timespan that a goldfish can focus.

Looking at it from a positive perspective, the changes have made it possible to develop strategies for making the most of human capital as well as democratize certain information types. Social media has equally given rise to new business opportunities, services, chances to fundraise, and exchange of ideas. Some of the corrupt dynamics that did well under secrecy and behind-the-scenes have no place in the world of open communication.

However, we have to recognize that there is danger in the new brave world that has limitless marketing opportunities. There is the risk of false information, easy manipulation of masses, and the rise in pretentious reality show demagogues.

The media world has unfortunately succumbed to the new ways of doing things, even though they are negative. Valid concerns have been raised about the possibility of a numbing effect due to information overload, more so violent stories and imagery. Rapid shift in attention and desensitization can lead to distraction or fatigue. That can best be seen in how fast people are willing to move to the next “Big” thing and forget about the last one that they had got lost in.

How to handle the goldfish effect

The goldfish effect, without a doubt, is a danger that researchers believe we should overcome. Despite the setbacks that it brings forth, it is possible to work around it. We can achieve that by implementing any of the following four strategies:

1. Maintain authenticity

When operating within a certain niche, it is easy to get drawn in the need to learn about what’s flashy. As you create content for a certain business, developing a marketing strategy is an essential part of the process. With that in mind, it does not imply you need to always do what the industry is up to. Padding potential customers with overused marketing phrases may see you lose crucial clients.

You need to develop real content that does not feel inundated by jargon. Such content can stand out because your industry followers may want to relate at a personal level. They want to know that you are not just pushing content to them for the sake of gaining their traction.

An important part of maintaining authenticity entails showcasing who you are. One obvious way to do so is to create a team page or an about us page. However, you need to do it the right way for that to be effective. Ensure that your content or business has a human face to forge a connection.

2. Be mobile-friendly

Building trust forms a part of your social media marketing efforts. Thus, it turns out quite helpful if your audiences can easily find meaningful information from your online platforms.

The idea of the goldfish effect has made people often rush to social media platforms in search of what’s the latest. A Microsoft research found that 50% of the 2,000 smartphone owners study participants often took out their phone when they were not preoccupied in something else. They were more likely to open their social media platforms in a bid to connect with someone or watch what’s trending.

To ensure that they get accurate information, you need to take a leading position in providing it. Numerous social media users do so via their smartphones. As a result, you must ensure the content created is worth viewing via mobile phone. Failure to do so will make them go somewhere else.

3. Declutter your content

Cluttered content is hard to consume because the target audience uses a lot of time and effort sifting through it. Most people want fast answers to their questions. They want specific information. As a result, make sure that your content is efficient for it to be effective.

You can do this by keeping it short. Mobile users have a high tendency to skip massive chunks of text. They probably do not have a lot of time to read through to the end because they keep thinking about what’s next. To reduce the possibility of them skipping your content, make sure that you are as brief as possible.

Making the content catchy also goes a long way. The essence of technology is to simplify life, but it provides us with so much that you may sometimes feel lost. You can break up your content with images and graphics to help readers retain focus.

4. Engage in micro-moments

Engaging in micro-moments has been found to be the most effective response to the goldfish effect. That is, you aim at being there the instant at which someone takes out their mobile phone looking for something. Potential customers do not have the time to wait for long before you respond. They want to get it when they request. Thus, you need to be the most attentive business and engage with clients before they move on.

You can do this by establishing a call to action to create the desired urgency and evoke a need for emotive response. Use a call to action that addresses the issue head-on.

(Last Updated On: March 18, 2021)